15.12.06

U.N. unit to review Israeli barrier damage claims | Needless to say, the bastion of human rights, the US voted 'no'

Reuters AlertNet - U.N. unit to review Israeli barrier damage claims:

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly approved plans for a U.N. registry to record and process claims of damages caused by Israel's construction of its West Bank barrier.

Israel rejected the move, saying it had set up a mechanism to help those harmed by the structure, which it says is to keep out suicide bombers but which Palestinians see as a land grab to preempt talks on the borders of an eventual Palestinian state.

The barrier, a mix of electronic fences and walls, has been under construction since 2002 and eventually will stretch more than 400 miles (650 km), curling around Israeli settlements as it cuts deep into Palestinian lands.

A resolution adopted by a vote of 162 to 7 with 7 abstentions called for the establishment within six months of a three-member board and a secretariat to record and process damage claims.

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Palestinian U.N. Observer Riyad Mansour, calling for the measure's approval, said Israel "must comply or be compelled to comply with its legal obligations under international law." "The international community must hold Israel accountable for its illegal actions" in Palestinian areas, he said.

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The United States, Israel's closest ally, was among those voting "no."

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